Blaming the vendor for your mistakes


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Dec 16, 2000
North-East US
Big time challenge. How many of you would rather blame the vendor and ask for a replacement than admit a personal mistake which ended with a recently delivered frame being damaged? You know, the "it came badly scratched, or cracked open at one corner" stories...
To help this topic take off, I would admit taht it ocasionally happens even with high end frame users.
This will sound crazy, but - at least in conversations with the customer - I'd rather say I made a mistake even if the vendor DID screw up.

Blaming anyone else - a vendor, an employee, and act of God - always sounds like an excuse even when it's not.

I don't think I've ever asked a vendor to replace something I've messed up. I have other shortcomings, but that's not one of them.
Ron has said it perfectly.

I've always believed that if you blame someone for something you are personally responsible for doing, it will come back and bite you several times.
Once, about 25 years ago, I bought a small inflatable boat from a regional department store called Shopko.

I stupidly inflated it with a SCUBA tank that was pressurized to about 3200psi and it exploded. Whoops!

Knowing Shopko has an EXTREMELY liberal return policy, I took it back and told them it had a big hole in it. They didn't ask how it got a big hole in it. They exchanged it or gave me my money back. I forget which, but I'm sure it was my choice.

I am still quite certain I'm going to h*ll for that, and I don't like the feeling one bit.
"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when at first we practice to deceive."

(or something like that....)
I am a firm believer in finding the solution rather than pointing blame. I also believe that we should try to anticipate problems and head them off before they arrive. I tell my staff "fix the problem then we will talk about it and try to make sure it does not happen again".

If it is the vendor's fault I will let them know and won't rest until its right( In my view) If I or my staff did it I take the costs problems etc.

I must admit I hate with vengence when stock comes to you damaged and the vendor will not accept responcibility. Or its a major hassle to rectify the problem.( Blaming the courier or someone else. )Have a couple of Vendors we do not use for this reason alone. I always wonder what would happen if we tried to do the same thing to our clients. Gave them a frame with scratches or dents and said oh well thats how it came to me.

I had a customer come in the other day because the frame came off the wall. To make it fit they replaced the wire and hangers at the back and then blamed me for it breaking. (Old Framer) I replaced the glass for nixs and then delivered it to their house and rehung it.

Ron I hope you have used them again
Would it be wrong to say "Hey I screwed this up can you help me fix it?"

How many of our kids have taken a perfectly good plate of food in a restaurant and thrown it in the floor? I know I have and the restaurant was more than happy to bring another without charging me for another kids meal.

OK GET OFF MY BACK! I've only dropped my plate 6 or 7 times. Happy now I admitted it?
One of lifes little pleasures or graces at this age is to just blame the 'goof-ball' and call it good.

Maybe there is a customer of mine out there that does believe that I truly am a goofball... but then, it really doesn't matter to me.

I take the fall, get it fixed and the customer is happy.

If they want to yell, they can have at it... I'm old, I can smile and listen, I probably don't have that long to live, I may be on strained vegies and pablem... I don't have to take it to heart....
If it makes them feel better, they can let fly. If they would rather just hug me in my dotterage, let the hugs begin (I might be able to eek out a drop of drool or two...).

If blaming someone is what the customer needs... I can be the fall guy...

But if the vender screwed up, I just want it right the second time.... I don't have time for a stroke, there are to many hugs out there to get to.
I don't doubt that vendors have customers (like we also do) that pass the blame to save them embarassment or money.

The ethical high ground certainly does not encourage this type of behaviour. It would be very odd to find someone admit in public that they are regularly dishonest...

However, (I am unaware of your circumstances) it may be possible that freight damage is being passed back due to inferior product or packaging.
I've never blamed a vendor for my mistakes but some of them obviously think I am. I suppose I can't blame them but if I keep getting that treatment they tend to get less wall space. These are usually vendors that have no rep in the area to visit us. The ones that do know that I go out of my way to fix things myself if at all possible. So I think that it's the lack of personal contact that leads to suspicions. I'm sure it works both ways too.
My favorite vendor for dealing with this sort of thing is Nelsons PFC. Their policy is to replace their mistakes for free and my mistakes for 1/2 price. More than fair. I think it makes the whole proccess of replacement easier and less susceptible to suspicions or cheating. I don't need more stress. It takes vendors, shops and customers to make the wheel go round and it works better when we're all on good terms.
Originally posted by Jay H:

How many of our kids have taken a perfectly good plate of food in a restaurant and thrown it in the floor? I know I have and the restaurant was more than happy to bring another without charging me for another kids meal.
I'm jealous, where do you eat? My kids have had the ice cream fall off their cones and I've had to pay for a replacement! It has happened here in Maine and elsewhere on me, so I don't think it is a restaraunt issue!

(Happened at the Well's Scoop Deck, great ice cream and not a bad name for an ice cream shop! and in the North End in Boston, grapefruit gelati, delicious!)
Without climbing on a soapbox, I will say that we have to sleep at night. If ripping people off still gives you a restfull night, so be it.

We live in a world devoid of ethics. I try to go my own way.
When I worked for a vendor I'd get those calls. "I need a replacement. It's warped. Since you're replacing it might as well make the long legs an inch longer." You can't call a client a liar. You just can't.

It was much easier to deal with "Man, I dropped that chop and mangled the finish, right on it's shiny gold face. It's due tomorrow, is there any way you can help me?"

And on the other side, I have had to make that call. I too prefer a clear conscience. I'll admit when I've screwed up.

As for letting on to the customer well, if it truly is a vendor error I might use the nebulous "there was a problem with your frame and I had to reorder it" only because my shop is just a year old (a year and 3 days to be exact) and I don't want there to be customer confidence issues if they can be avoided.
It is tempting to lay the blame on the distributor, but no, I eat mistakes. I tried to make some things work, and sometimes I could. I didn't want to have the distributor replace something if I could (make it work). Somehow, I think we all pay for mistakes, theirs and ours (if we pass the blame), in the long run, in higher prices for everyone.

Incorrect sizing wasn't a problem. All orders were faxed.
I will call my vendor to tell them if a frame came in "not right". I typically don't get the client involved unless the piece will be late.
If we happen to order incorrectly, we eat the mistake. After all, it would have been our fault.
I think the only time I actually blamed a vendor is when they tell me a frame will be in at a certain time and it doesn't come in until 2 or 3 weeks later (true story, holidays can really mess up shipping dates).
Well Cornel, it seems that you thought you were going to challenge us. Or perhaps open up a can of worms. Niether happened.

Like everyone else here, I would not blame the wrong person for the mistake. (I have however told my customer that the wrong frame came in, and we are waiting for the replacement, without telling them that the reason that the wrong frame came in was that I ordered the wrong frame.) But if asked, I do tell them that the mistake was mine.

BUT, if the problem is the suppliers' fault, I will ask them to correct it. Unfortunatly, with my track record, if the supplier cuts it wrong the first time, it normally comes in wrong the second time.

But do I shift the blame? NEVER! That is bad form, and can come back to haunt you later.
Do any of you deal with Nelson's in Traverse City, MI? They have a framer's insurance policy. If you discover a mistake after the order is shipped, they will replace your order (corrected as needed) for 1/2 the cost. Apparently, it has helped resolve some of the dishonesty issues for them. It was definitely a good reason to do business with them.
I had to come back to this and add something. I know 2 business owners that regularly blame their suppliers for each and every mistake, and go so far as to concoct stories to get replacements from their vendors. (These 2 people are not framers, btw). They openly have admitted this practice in business social discussions. Their excuse is that it is important for them to always look like they are "on top of things" in the eyes of their customers.

I suppose there are some that believe that, and many times they may get away with it. Some of their customers may even buy into the story, but many will not. I do not respect a business that will dump on their suppliers, and you would think respect would be worth much more than a few extra bucks in a persons pocket.

It's just a tawdry practice.
Well, talk about coincidence. Today is delivery day. Expecting lots of chops, mat board, & glass. Recieved one chop, two mats, & a free sample roll of tape. I freaked out. Then I calmed down & realized after talking to my supplier and doing a little research that I never e-mailed the order. I could have pitched a fit and blamed them for maybe deleting my e-mail or whatever, but that is just evil. The wonderful CSR called me back & said that another driver would be on his way to Mobile tonight about 7:30 pm & could meet me at the interstate with most of my order (chops & all) if I wanted. IMO, that is going above & beyond. Same way I try to treat my customers.

Would I ever try to cheat the supplier? No way. Have I ever fibbed about a mistake in ordering of ruining a frame? Maybe in the way that Meghan described, but that's as far as it goes.
Think about it. There's only one answer. The honest person will claim honesty as will the dishonest person.
Cornel, Is it naiveté or a compelling desire to annoy people that forces forth such drivel?

OOPS! Almost forgot...

"Here's your sign."
These are just a couple of observations I have made over the years.

As a supplier I would like to share the most comon return where the framer was more then likely at fault.= Returned chops that are scratched. I can't help but quietly laugh when the returned chop has a long wavy cut mark on one stick that somehow matches the cut made on the box when it was opened with a razor. This has become so comon that we have taken steps in packaging to avoid this. We now only tape the ends of the boxs and we use poly straping to hold the middle closed.

Another comon return that I am very suspect of is the chop returned with atg tape torn paper and holes from the hangers. Almost always these returns never require a replacement, just credit. The excuses for this return vary.
I don't rip off nor do I like being ripped off even though I've been ripped off.
I think that when you don't give your vendor the opportunity to take care of you, by their choice, then you are robbing them of the chance to do right by you.

More than a few times, I have called in a panic, explained my situation, and walked away with more than I deserved. And both parties were happy and confident that the resolution was in our best interests.

I have had many less than perfect chops, that I choose to make the rails that I had work. When I need them to do the same for me, . . . I just ask.

They really don't seem to mind (much!).

You are right. I don't expect any grumbler step up and confess that occasionally he was blaming the vendor for his mistakes.
What I wanted to convey is that such things really happen more frequently than we'd like to admit they do. Megan and Griphon confirmed my point and proved not only that VENDORS ARE NOT STUPID OR CASUAL ABOUT RETURNS BUT ALSO THAT, BEYOND HYPOCRITICAL SMILES AND EXCUSES, THEY DO KEENLY KNOW WHEN THEY ARE BEING ABUSED AND TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF or when they screwed things up. What they further choose to do about it is another interesting direction to be followed.
I don't think that this thread is capable of eradicating the evil practice in discussion. But I do hope it may descourage some future temptations of this kind from growing up to full fruition, at least for a while.
At any rate, I didn't mean to blame this habit on the entire framers' community, quite the contrary, and I am glad to see how strong you came against this sort of business attitude.

[ 07-14-2005, 12:27 AM: Message edited by: Whynot ]
We all know what it feels like when a customer returns a frame that looks like it was dropped down an elevator shaft and says, "I was watching television and this frame just spontaneously self-destructed! Right before my eyes. Honest!"

I always wanna say, "Look, I'll fix it or replace it or whatever it takes, but tell me what really happened. It's gotta be a **** of a story."
I'm reminded of a popular saying:

"Stick with the truth; it is easier to keep your story straight."

I had to re-learn that many times in my youth. Finally figuring it out has made later life a little easier.

Slight Frakenthread here...
I had a customer come into the shop recently with a "warranty" issue.
His mats were moldy.
I told him that it must have gotten wet.

Upon closer inspection you could see the tide lines on the paper backing and a sticker from another framer!
True confessions! I will admit that I have told a customer a mldg was backordered when I just plain forgot to include it in my order. I then scurried to get it in ASAP. Shame on me, I know there is a higher ground that should be followed, but this was somewhat of a victimless crime...after all, the customer selected such a beautiful, popular moulding that the supplier was having difficult keeping it in stock. Kinda reminiscent of the Beanie Baby Days (Daze).

Would I ever go back to a supplier if I damaged something and claim it came in that way?

Have I ever been made to feel by a supplier that I must have screwed up or damaged something and they insinuated I was lying?

Have I ever yelled, cursed or called a supplier a name?
No. (Not to their face anyway :D ).

Have I ever politely called a supplier because of their error, gotten off the phone and had my ears ringing knowing that as soon as they got off the phone I was being "bad mouthed" and labeled as a trouble customer?

Have I ever ate a suppliers mistake because it ain't worth the hassle of dealing with it? (or feeling that I would be labeled as above?).

Have I ever kept a small (and I do mean small) item accidentally shipped with my order because it ain't worth the hassle of dealing with it?

(Although I'd later lose sleep worrying about their inventory count on that little item).

Have I ever had to cover a supplier's dupa after they royally screwed up to take care of my customer's needs at great expense to myself (couriers, etc.) and never even received an apology from the vendor who undeniably erred even after bringing it to their attention?

Have I switched some of my business elsewhere when such occurences happen?


Am I willing to pay a little more to a vendor who is reliable and helps to solve my problems and, without question, admits to and resolves their own.

The above type of "vendor" I consider a "supplier partner".

If any of my suppliers wonder where they fall into my little classification of the supply chain...all they have to do is ask...if they really care. I am totally open about what I like about a company and will politely and discreetly tell them what I don't like...when asked.

I will compliment a supplier for a little thing and gently and forgivingly let them know when they fell down. How they react determines my loyalty and whether I remain discreet about the problem. I still remain polite to them, but the world will now hear about their lack of integrity.

I guess you can say I easily forgive, but don't even think I'll forget unless corrective action takes place and a re-occuring mistake becomes an abberation.

How a supplier handles things gone awry tells you much about the culture of a company which sometimes is so opposite of the face they think they portray.

Who I really feel sorry for is a good rep working for a bad company...of course that may be an oxymoron...bad companies all eventually lose their good reps...

All right David, you can get off your soapbox and quit filibustering!

Dave Makielski

"What we have here is a failure to communicate!"
Honesty Pays off.

I had ordered a frame...My cost about 400.00. Very large. Guess what...I screwed up on the size. I called them and told them what happened. Asked what we could do and explained how it was all my fault. The answer....we will send you a new one at no charge. Even after I said thankyou and told them I didn't expect it, they said no problem.. I think as it was so large they could use it somewhere else.

Was I happy.....Sure I was....

My mom always told me honesty pays....
Was this a framing supplier or a frame shop? In either case recognize them publicly on this forum for outstanding customer service!!!!

Dave Makielski